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Invasion of New Zealand’s montane forests and sub alpine grasslands by wildings

Date: 26th April 2023

Seed rain of Douglas fir into the Sexton Valley from the Branch Leatham catchment – Marlborough

Our montane forests and sub alpine environments are spectacular natural places with many unique plant and animal species, but they are also highly vulnerable to modification from faster growing wilding pines and conifers. To illustrate how profound these modifications can be, Richard Bowman, WPN chair has put together the following presentation:

Wilding pines and conifers at high elevations are a serious challenge. They are often in environments that are only accessible by long walks or helicopter. The combination of seeding trees and prevailing winds means that lighter seeds of species such as Pinus contorta and Douglas fir can ‘rain seed’ many kilometres distant from source trees.

Areas previously free of wildings are then rapidly invaded as depicted in the above photo in the Sexton Valley. However, areas with native vegetation are not immune from these tenacious wilding seedlings. Richards images show examples of Douglas fir invasion of mountain beech forest in the Queenstown area. This is occurring in many places around New Zealand.

We cannot afford to lose these unique places and must continue to advocate for sufficient ongoing funding to support and expand the work already being done. It’s election year and the environment is a hot topic – we need to collectively push the wilding management mantra – locally, regionally and nationally.

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